The “Treasure Peninsula” in the hands of the invaders: threats and challenges to the Ukrainian cultural heritage in Crimea

Andriy Ivanets,

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Member of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Ukrainian Studies

The "Treasure Peninsula" in the hands of the invadersCrimea is not for nothing called the open-air museum. Dozens of peoples and civilizations in Europe and Asia left traces on the blessed Crimean land. In addition, unique phenomena were growing on it, among which indigenous peoples occupy a special place. According to the discovered and recorded monuments of history, archeology, architecture and monumental art, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is the richest region of Ukraine. And here it is still necessary to add the legacy of Sevastopol …

In the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the sharper aspects of the Crimean problem are brought to the fore: accelerated militarization of the occupied Crimea and its transformation into a military base for further aggression, formation of a “peninsula of fear” by occupiers, where human rights and human rights are violated and systematically violated. communities, blocking the production of hydrocarbons from most of the Ukrainian shelf, stealing Russian gas from Ukrainian fields using captured Ukrainian equipment (only in two storms) and platforms with Ukrainian budget was paid 800 mln. USD), block traffic in the Azov Sea and more.

However, the problems of Ukraine’s cultural heritage in the Crimea through the policy of the occupiers are no less pressing, both because of the blatant cases of vandalism on the part of Russia and given the special place of the Crimea in the Ukrainian geocultural space. Our country is returning to the European family of peoples. Many thinkers see it as the common basis of European civilization – Greek culture and philosophy, Roman law and Christianity. Crimea for Ukraine-Russia was one of the main ways of penetrating Greco-Roman and Christian values. At the same time, this region is an important center of the Islamic tradition of Eastern Europe. For the modern Ukrainian political nation, which is ethnically divided from the Ukrainian ethnic group, national minorities and indigenous peoples, the Crimean Tatar cultural heritage is of particular importance, as the Crimean Tatars are the largest indigenous people of Crimea and, accordingly, of all Ukraine. Taking care of the Crimean Tatar culture and monuments is a direct responsibility of the Ukrainian state. And the occupation policy has led to discrimination against the indigenous people who have not yet healed the trauma of communist genocide and threatens to preserve its heritage. An unfortunate symbol of this was the act of vandalism on the part of the occupying power under the guise of restoration in Khan-Sarai, the only preserved monument of the palace architecture of the Crimean Tatars.

“Treasure Peninsula” in numbers

Actually important monuments of archeology begin to form in the Crimea since the Paleolithic. Already in prehistoric times, an interesting feature of the region has emerged – its ability to occasionally retain as long as possible phenomena that have already disappeared elsewhere. For example, the Crimean land has become one of the last shelters for Neanderthals in Europe. Many traces of the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Eneolithic, Bronze, and Early Iron eras also left behind. Even more cultural layers have been left behind by our predecessors in historical times. Crimea lay at the intersection of sea and land routes, had beautiful bays, extensive pastures and convenient places to live and cultivate land, so for the last three millennia of history, it has constantly attracted tribes, peoples and states of the Great Steppe, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Mysterious Brands, Iranian Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmats, Alans, Turkic Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs, Polovtsy, Seljuks, Crimean Tatars, Ottoman Turks, Karaites, Crimeans, German-speaking Goths, and Hellenes, Romans, Romans other peoples left their mark in Crimea. For the right to own it or its parts fought for ancient policies, steppe associations of tribes, kingdoms of antiquity and Middle Ages of Asia and Europe, the Italian Republic, the Ottomans and Romanovs. In the middle of the nineteenth century. Crimea became the main arena of the Eastern War between Russia, on the one hand, and the coalition of European states and Turkey, on the other. Whirlpool of the tragic events of the twentieth century. pulled the peninsula even further – the period of wars and revolutions of 1914–1920, the communist experiment, the Second World War left many scars, scars and traces on the Crimean land. On the territory of Crimea is located the oldest city of Ukraine – Kerch, which appeared more than 26 centuries ago. This policy is connected with the foundation of the state, which is one of the oldest in the territory of modern Ukraine – the Bosporus kingdom. And the history of Crimea was known by the states that created the Crimeans themselves in other epochs, among which was the last fragment of the Byzantine world – the Orthodox principality of Theodoro (captured by the Ottomans in 1475) and a significant state headed by the Genghisid dynasty – the Crimean Khanate.

Even a brief look at the Crimean past clearly demonstrates that the cultural heritage of the Crimea must be an extraordinary layer of the world’s cultural heritage. In fact, we see in this region a wide panorama of historical and cultural sites – nomadic mounds and remains of ancient policies, temples and necropolises, cave cities and fortifications, memorial buildings and complexes, museums and reserves. Many of them are unique or of great historical and cultural value.

At the time of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2014, 7227 monuments of archeology, 3861 monuments of history, 742 monuments of architecture, town planning and landscape art, 520 monuments of monumental art, were kept on the state register in the Crimea. 227 of them are of national importance. At the same time in the state of Sevastopol 246 monuments of archeology were registered, 1479 – histories, 719 – architecture, urban planning and landscape art, 262 – monumental art, 42 of them – of national importance. That is all in Crimea there were 14364 sights. Much or little? This is more than a tenth of all such objects registered in Ukraine! Recall that the area of ​​the Crimean peninsula is only 4% of the total area of ​​the state.

At the beginning of 2014, 32 state museum institutions were operating in the Crimea, including 7 historical and cultural reserves: the Sudak Fortress State Architectural and Historical Reserve (created in 1928, a branch of the National Reserve Sofia Sophia since 1958), Kerch Historical and Cultural Reserve (1987), Bakhchisarai Historical and Cultural Reserve (1990), Alupka State Palace and Park Reserve (1990), Kalos-Limen Republican Historical and Archaeological Reserve in Chernomorskoye (1997) Old Crimea (2000) Historical and Archeological Reserve “Scythian Naples” (2011).

In Sevastopol, at the time of the onset of Russia’s aggression, approximately 10 state museums were operating, including the Chersonese Tavriysky National Reserve (founded in 1978, national status granted in 1994).

In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea there were 917.5 thousand objects of the state part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine, and in Sevastopol – 320.2 thousand. In addition, there were more than 300 public and departmental museums in the autonomy of state registration. A number of similar institutions were in Sevastopol.

The United Nations Specialized Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO – has been keeping the World Heritage List since 1978. The inclusion in it gives additional guarantees of preservation and integrity of the object, defines its special security status, and also increases the prestige of the country and attracts tourists. As of 2013, the List included 936 objects, of which seven represent Ukraine. The importance of the Crimean cultural heritage is evidenced by the fact that the “Ancient Seven” includes the “Ancient City of Chersonese of Tavria and its choirs (V c. BC to XIV c. AD).” The Kherson settlement is the only in Europe a fully preserved specimen of an ancient city with an agricultural district (choir), which demonstrates how the territory was distributed among the citizens of the ancient city and how economic activity was organized. Just in June 2013, Ukraine’s efforts at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee made it a World Heritage Site.

In addition, even before the attack of Russia, Ukraine has added to the list of objects-nominees in the World Heritage List 5 more Crimean objects:

  1. Bakhchisarai Palace of Crimean Khans (2003);
  2. The complex of objects of Sudak Fortress of the VI – XVI centuries. (2007);
  3. Strengthened settlements on the Genoese trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea (2010);
  4. The cultural landscape of Crimean Gothic cave cities (2012);
  5. The historical environment of the capital of the Crimean khans in the city of Bakhchisaray ”(2012).

Unfortunately, the occupation of Crimea by Russia has not only slowed down for a long time the process of including these sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but has already brought direct negative consequences for some of them.

Occupation as a challenge and a threat to the cultural heritage of Crimea

The first steps of the occupying country in the spring of 2014 in the Crimea regarding cultural heritage were illustrative. The occupation administration dismantled the monument to Hetman Sahaidachny and the commemorative mark of the 10th anniversary of the Ukrainian Navy in Sevastopol. Then they acted on a larger scale and on the principle that the territory of lawlessness is the territory of lawlessness. Contrary to international law, in 2014–2015, the occupation administration in the Crimea and the occupying state were taking quasi-legal steps to appropriate Ukraine’s historical and cultural heritage. Legislative acts of the illegitimate “Republic of Crimea” and the authorities of Russia were adopted to declare “objects of cultural heritage (monuments of history and culture)” of Crimea … “an integral part of the national wealth and heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation”, simplified the procedure for inclusion of the Crimean monuments to the register of objects of cultural heritage of the Russian Federation and began its application. Almost all specialized scientific and museum institutions of the Crimea by the end of 2014 were re-registered under Russian legislation.

According to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954), the occupying forces are obliged to assist the national authorities in protecting and preserving their cultural property. That is, the Russian Federation, as an occupying state, should help Ukraine to ensure their security. However, the Kremlin, known for its brutal and cynical attitude to international law, does not fulfill its obligations under the Hague Convention.

The negative consequences of this for the cultural heritage of Crimea were not delayed. The occupying State is allocating funds to what it calls restoration. So immediately after the occupation of the Crimea began the destruction of the creation of architects from Italy Toricelli and Digby – stairs to Mount Mithridates, where in ancient times was the acropolis of Panticape. Back in 2016, the Kremlin leader promised to rebuild this landmark building for Kerch. In 2017, the Russian tender for restoration was won by Meander LLC from St. Petersburg. It should be noted that this firm has a fantastic success in obtaining Russian budget money. Billions of rubles were in her accounts. Including, according to experts, it has received contracts in the occupied Crimea and Sevastopol in general for more than 2 billion rubles. Most of these sums for the unauthorized state-sovereign state – Ukraine – are restoration works at sites including the Livadia Palace, the Surb Khach Monastery complex in Old Crimea, A. Chekhov’s house and the Swallow’s Nest in Yalta.

I do not think anyone has any illusions about selecting a restoration company in Russia, where the words “rasp” and “rollback” may soon suppress the words “satellite” and “pogrom” beyond the “export potential”. But it was painful to read that in 2018, without meandering archaeological excavations, Meander directly into the slopes of Mount Mithridates, where the ancient acropolis was located, … built 1134 piles, each 30 meters long, and poured concrete into the middle of them. It is not even important that, according to the occupation authorities, such a “slope strengthening” had no effect on the stairs and that the works were carried out outside the area of ​​their cadastral location. The main question is: what happened to the cultural layers of the ancient Panticape and the medieval Bosporus after such barbaric intervention? The impression is that journalists, according to the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation of the Medical Company “Meander”, have confused the toughening measures around a village club in the Ryazan region with work on an antique object of world importance.

A screaming act of vandalism also occurred in the Bakhchisarai Palace. At the end of 2015, the general contractor (Atta Group Corporation of Moscow) and the subcontractor (Kiramet LLC) began, on the request of the occupying power, a “restoration” of the works on the oldest building of the Han-Sarai – the Great Khan Mosque (1532). These structures have removed authentic floor beams and handmade tiles and replaced them with … the latest materials. During the de facto reconstruction, they damaged the paintings, which were carefully restored by Ukrainian restorers to a different floor. And one of the oldest tombstones in the Khan’s Cemetery. In addition, they managed to remove the roof of a valuable ancient building in the winter, as a result, moisture got inside, and put concrete armopoise on the walls, which increased the load and led to cracks in the structure and minaret, damage to stained glass. The actions of the Russian contractor, who had no experience in the restoration of historical and cultural sites, have caused irreparable damage to the monument that Ukraine has made to the Preliminary List of World Cultural Heritage. Some experts are convinced that the destruction of Han-Saray authenticity is not just a matter of corruption and unprofessionalism, but one of the steps towards the assimilation of indigenous peoples, during which a large part of the architectural monuments of the Crimean Tatars were already destroyed by the communist regime. Through the announcement by activists and the actions of Ukrainian diplomacy on the tragic situation with the only Crimean Tatar monument of palace construction, they turned their attention to the UN. However, at other facilities of the Khan’s Palace, the restoration is now carried out by the notorious Meander Company.

It is now restoring, with unintended consequences, another landmark in the World Heritage Site – the Genoese Fortress in Sudak. It is the best preserved monument of western European serfdom in the south of Ukraine, almost perfectly inscribed in the mountain landscape. In 2015, one of the towers of the fortress collapsed. This drama entailed another – illegitimate Russian museum management hired unskilled workers who had laid the foundation with concrete and old stone, but used a copy of an authentic tower using modern cement. In this way, the catapult gradually replaces the present monuments … In addition, modern small and not very architectural forms, electric poles installed during the occupation in the protective zone of Sudak Fortress, distort the overall appearance of the historical object.

Unfortunately, the list of problems related to the restoration of monuments in the Crimea can be continued, but it is time to move to illegal archaeological sites. After the occupation, they even talked about an “archaeological boom” in the territory of autonomy and Sevastopol. It is largely related to Russia’s illegal construction of infrastructure projects. Thus, during the construction of a strategic military transport facility – the Crimea-Kuban bridge, as Russian sources have reported, 1 million artifacts were found, a tenth of which is of scientific value! Obviously, the lion’s share of the finds was made in the occupied territory of Ukraine, but contrary to the right, no one applied to the authorized bodies of the sovereign state for open letters and permits for excavations. In general, these, like almost all other archaeological works in the occupied Crimea, were carried out in violation of Ukrainian law and international law. Experts from the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies have noted that during the construction in 2017-2018, the Kerch-Sevastopol route of 75 archeological sites that fell into the construction zone and most of which were just discovered, only 3 were preserved. The late Scythian settlement “Frontovo-2”, a burial mound with the burial of a Cimmerian leader, parking of the primitive man, medieval settlements.

One of the problems in the field of archaeological heritage protection is the official authorization in Russia of the activity of private archeological companies and the transfer of this practice to the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea. There is reason to believe that much of their findings are on the “black market”. Traditionally active in the occupied Crimea and ordinary “black archaeologists”, only one FSB collection was estimated at $ 2 million.

Illegal export of cultural heritage monuments from Crimea to Russia or other countries is a serious problem. The Convention on Measures to Ban and Prevent the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of the Right to Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) stipulates that the export or transfer of cultural property rights resulting from the occupation is illegal. Nevertheless, throughout the years of occupation, Russia has been exporting items from the Museum Fund of Ukraine for display in Russian museums. How many are returning to the Crimea is unknown. Meanwhile, for example, in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow exhibited paintings by I. Aivazovsky, which are exhibits of the Feodosia Art Gallery. There are cases of export of items from Crimean museums abroad. For example, in the summer of 2019 Russia, in particular, with the help of the Crimean Diocese of the UOC-MP, organized an exhibition “Shrines of Crimea” in Cyprus using Crimean artifacts.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Cyprus responded swiftly to the latest case concerning the broader problem of the use of the Ukrainian cultural heritage by the aggressor state in the war against Ukraine. Representatives of the Russian side did not particularly hide that this exhibition is part of a broader provocative project aimed at achieving indirect recognition by the EU Member State of annexation of Crimea. For this purpose, in particular, the “Society of Friends of Chersonese Tavriisky” was formed in Cyprus (the previous working name is “Crimean House in the EU”). In general, Putin has repeatedly tried to use Chersonese to try to find a quasi-historical justification for the annexation that has become the biggest violation of international law in post-Hitler Europe. In fact, no state on the continent where two world wars began has annexed the territory of another sovereign state for more than half a century. Hence the absurd statements of the Kremlin head that Chersonese is the source of Russia’s centralized state.

Used by Russia to attempt indirect recognition of the seizure of Crimea and philately. So, in 2016, she made a joint issue of stamps with Malta in honor of the architect Nikolai Krasnov, among which images was the palace and park ensemble in Koreiz Dülber, and in 2017 there was a Russian-Sri Lankan series of stamps “Architecture”, where there was a postage stamp with the Bakhchisarai Holy Dormition Monastery. Invitations to visit Crimea with violations of Ukrainian legislation by foreign scientists and culture also serve the same purpose.

A significant problem is the use of part of the Ukrainian archival fund seized in the Crimea by the occupying state, as well as the removal from the Crimean libraries of books that do not fit into the procrastinating lodge of the great Russian ideology, and bringing to account the administrative responsibility of library workers for their use, for example, in Feodosia.

The Ukrainian state and society on the cultural heritage in the Crimea: search for effective interaction

The authorities of Ukraine are taking measures to protect the cultural heritage in the Crimea from the actions of the occupying state. Among the positives is drawing the international community’s attention to this burning issue. For example, Ukraine, for which Russia illegally prevents monitoring in the temporarily occupied territory, succeeded in initiating in 2018 the decision of the UNESCO Executive Board to start monitoring the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine). The monitors of this specialized UN agency have not yet been able to enter the provisionally occupied territory. Nevertheless, in September 2019, UNESCO Director-General A. Azulet stated as a general deterioration of the situation on the Crimean peninsula in all areas of the organization’s competence, and in particular, “the devastating actions of the Russian authorities in the Crimea, which really threaten the preservation of universal cultural and historical value. and the authenticity of Ukrainian cultural heritage sites, in particular the Chersonesos Ancient City of Taurida and its choirs – from the UNESCO World Heritage List and the Khan Palace in Bakhchisarai – from the Preliminary List of All heritage. “

Ukraine has succeeded in winning the court of first instance in the Netherlands on the case of the so-called “Scythian gold”, that is, valuable artifacts of antiquity and the early Middle Ages from the State Museum Fund of Ukraine, which were exported from the Crimean museums for display abroad before the war and which Russia wants to return for war occupied territory. Moreover, the aggressor state is hiding in this case because of the alleged Ukrainian status of museum institutions, which forced them to re-register under their legislation, that is, made them illegitimate in terms of international law. In 2019, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted in the first reading a law that would change the old management of the Crimean museums, which had long gone beyond the legal field of Ukraine and cooperate with the occupying state, and legitimately appoint new directors. The latter, in our opinion, will be able to withdraw this claim to Ukraine at all.

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are investigating cases of Russia’s appropriation of Ukrainian cultural heritage in the temporarily occupied territory, and damage to it. In March 2019, the sanction mechanism for violators of the legislation in this field has finally started to work. However, the first sanction list showed that the internal filling of this mechanism needs improvement, because many, indeed, major violators have not got to it.

However, the almost 6-year occupation of the Crimea shows that in the sphere of cultural heritage protection, systematic effective policies have not yet been worked out. This is largely, according to the expert community, related to the position of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. It was “the main body in the system of central executive bodies, which provides for the formation and implementation of state policy in the fields of culture and the arts, protection of cultural heritage.” Unfortunately, the previous leadership of the ministry was unable or unwilling to implement a policy of effective protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage in occupied Crimea. For the most part, this agency responded to problems in this area rather than taking a proactive stance. And often responded in a timely manner.

This, in particular, is illustrated by the situation with the lack of systematic monitoring of violations in the field of cultural heritage in Crimea (words remained to create a special Crimean center) and registers of cultural heritage sites in its territory (discussions have been underway since 2015), and sanctions have been introduced in only in the fifth year of occupation (and the merit in launching this mechanism seems to belong more to the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs), non-adherence to the Second Protocol of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Worship the value of the conflict in the event of an armed conflict. The Ministry of Culture had the right of legislative initiative, but despite the statement of Minister E. Nishchuk on the need to accede to the Second Protocol, it did not initiate this issue.

Since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, where the state is underdeveloped, civil society has been trying to “close loopholes” on its own. This year NGOs constantly sought to keep the issue of cultural heritage protection in occupied Crimea in the focus of the authorities. One of the most meaningful conversations on this topic was held at the roundtable “Monuments of the Crimea – the current state of cultural heritage of Ukraine”, which took place in May in Kiev on the initiative of the Crimean Center for Business and Cultural Cooperation “Ukrainian House”. Authorities, including the First Deputy Minister for TOT and IDPs, the expert environment, and the public discussed a number of painful issues. One of the results of the event was an appeal to the authorities of Ukraine and the international community. The document states the “catastrophic situation with the protection of the monuments of history, culture, architecture and archeology in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea and Sevastopol as a result of the actions of the aggressor state”, as well as its “policy of blurring the identity of indigenous Crimean Tatar peoples ». In particular, the Ukrainian authorities were invited to accede to the Second Protocol (1999) to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the UNIDROW 1995 Convention on the Stolen or Illegal Removal of Cultural Property and the Council Convention Europe on cultural offenses (Nicosia, 2017), and strengthened sanctions policy against offenders in the field of cultural heritage protection and set up a special body to monitor the cultural heritage in the meantime in the occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, in particular, the creation of a register of objects of the Museum Fund of Ukraine in these regions.

A more distant consequence of this roundtable was the issue of a special issue of the monuments of Ukraine: national heritage, dedicated to the state of cultural heritage in occupied Crimea. On its pages there is both official monitoring of the Ministry of TOT and IDPs, as well as expert analytics and materials of journalists on acute problems. The presentation of the magazine in Ukrinform in the fall of 2019 turned into a professional discussion of the problems of preserving cultural heritage. By the way, the bitter experience of the Crimea should push the authorities to advance, at least in the matter of accounting for cultural values ​​on the border with Russia. The materials of the magazine have interested not only profile specialists and admirers of the past, but also law enforcement officers.

It is hoped that the Government of Ukraine announced in the fall of 2019 but has not yet been approved by the NSDC the sanction list will include the most significant violators of cultural heritage legislation, as experts at the roundtables advised.

Another important step of civil society in establishing cooperation with authorities in the field of protection of cultural values ​​was the presentation in December at a round table in Kiev by the Crimean Institute of strategic research of registers of monuments and museum funds of Crimea, as well as monitoring methods and international mechanisms for the protection of cultural values. occupied territories. The expert society not only states the importance of the triad “systematic monitoring of the state of cultural heritage – its protection – punishment of violators”, but also gives the authorities information product for further elaboration.

According to many experts, cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Times of E. Nishchuk was difficult and far from effective, according to many experts. The leadership of the new Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has already announced its intention to establish the State Cultural Heritage Service, which has been repeatedly proposed by experts, and the State Inspectorate of Cultural Heritage. But will it be as dynamic in Crimean problems?

As the Ministry of Culture did not receive a response to the roundtable “Monuments of the Crimea – the current state of cultural heritage of Ukraine” (May 2019), the editorial office of the newspaper “Crimean Light” sent requests to these problems already to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. .

Here’s how the ex-acting responded. Minister of Culture of Ukraine, Chairman of the Ukrainian Committee of ICOMOS in 2007-2014 Mykola Yakovina:

“The editorial board of the newspaper“ Crimean Svitlytsya ”addressed three letters dated 25.10.2019 [1] with a written request to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine to provide information on a number of topical issues of preserving the cultural heritage of Ukraine, including monuments in the occupied territories. Although the Government approved the Regulations on the newly established Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine [2], the reply to the editorial office of the newspaper “Crimean lighthouse” received a letter signed by the Secretary of State of liquidated Ministry of Culture Karandeev RV, who is accordingly the chairman of the commission on liquidation of the Ministry of Culture [3] ] .

All letters of the Ministry of Culture are united and a formal answer is given on one page (Fig. 1).

Letter from the Ministry of Culture

Letter from the Ministry of Culture

Letter from the Ministry of Culture

By the way, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine (ICMS), in terms of the questions raised by the Crimean Church, is the main body in the system of central executive bodies, which provides for the formation and implementation of state policy in the fields of culture and arts, the state language policy, cultural heritage protection… ” with the full range of competencies that were previously within the competence of the liquidated Ministry of Culture [4] .

That is, even in the part of the questions posed by the Ministry of Culture, no single (affirmative or negative) answer was received. And these are direct questions about the state of the subordinate sphere, normatively assigned to the Ministry of Culture, such as:

 Is the cultural heritage monitored in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol ? ” “ Has the Register of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol been Created? ” ,” Is the Register of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol Established? “,” Are local heritage objects , in particular the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, entered into the State Register of Real Estate in Ukraine? ” ( Letter of“ Crimean Church ”dated 25.10.2019 №06 / 10-19);

“Are violations of the cultural heritage of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol monitored ?”, “Have the Ministry of Justice addressed to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea the violations of the cultural heritage of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied Crimea? ( letter of “Crimean Church” dated 25.10.2019 №07 / 10-19);

 Did the Ministry initiate the issue before the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (relevant committees) of the need to accede to the Second Protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict ”? , “Has the Ministry addressed the 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (Baku, July 2019) to address the problem of protecting the cultural heritage of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol?” (No. 09 / 10-19)

The preparation of the answer to such questions should not be burdensome for the bureaucratic machine of the state department, because according to modern standards of record keeping it is possible to search documents easily according to standard formulas. The answer also does not require generalization of a wide range of documents, statistics or documentary data and boils down to a simple unambiguous thesis: does the agency fulfill its powers in the field of responsibility ( yes or no, as in the questionnaire)?

It is astonishing that a routine bureaucratic act qualifies as “an appeal that requires the response to be summarized, to conduct analytical processing of data, to create new information or otherwise to create it”. It is hoped that the detailed answer will still be given within 30 days, as the chairman of the liquidation committee of the Ministry of Culture wished. The lack of straightforward unambiguous answers can only mean that the public is inaccurate with the fact of officials’ inactivity and the institutional failure of the department in this area at such a difficult time for the country. ”

PS This attitude of concern to the public and the media is of concern. However, no matter how officials are responsible, the problem of protecting the cultural heritage of Ukraine in the Crimea needs to be addressed and systematic interaction between the authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian civil society and the international community. And if we do nothing to save this precious layer of national and world culture, then the descendants may not forgive us….

[1] According to the registration of the initial correspondence of the editorial office of the newspaper “Crimean Svitlytsia” №06 / 10-19, №07 / 10-19, №08 / 10-19 and №09 / 10-19.

[2] Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of October 16, 2019 No. 885 “Some Issues of Activity of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports”.

[3] Annex 2 to the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of September 6, 2019 No. 738-p.

[4] Regulation on the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 3.09. 2014 No. 495.